BWW Review: Betty Buckley Returns with Jazzy New Cabaret Set at OC’s Segerstrom Center

It’s amazing to think that it has only been just six weeks since Tony Award winning stage and screen actress Betty Buckley departed her much-lauded 13-month-long engagement starring as the title role in the recent Broadway national tour production of HELLO DOLLY. During that brief stretch of time post-Dolly Levi, Ms. Buckley had already been preparing to go back out on the road again, this time returning to her series of touring intimate one-woman concerts—no elaborate period costumes or scripted story dialogue this time, just her selection of favorite songs and her undeniable talent center stage in its purest form.

Luckily, Orange County is the first stop of her brand new show, which continues through October 19, 2019 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Samueli Theater in Costa Mesa, where the show serves as the 2019-2020 Season Opener for the Center’s Cabaret Concert Series.

For the many who had tickets to see Ms. Buckley perform in HELLO DOLLY when the tour stopped in Costa Mesa—but missed her when she fell extremely ill during the first four nights of the week-long engagement—her return here, spry and healthy (hooray!) in the more up-close and more personal candlelit Cabaret setting of the Samueli Theater was well worth the wait.

Backed by a cool and incredibly talented jazz quartet, Ms. Buckley’s welcome return to the Samueli was a stirring, often wow-inducing intimate concert filled with jazzified arrangements of familiar tunes and some rarely-performed gems, many of which can be found on two of her most recent album releases, 2017’s Story Songs and 2018’s Hope, along with some brand new material specially arranged by her musical director and main accompanist Christian Jacob.

The solid 90-minute set had everyone in rapt attention as Ms. Buckley—during her concert’s opening night performance—sang through her lovingly curated repertoire which she described as akin to “a gallery showing of [her] latest paintings.” She is definitely blessed with a powerful, dva-caliber voice which she laces with palpable emotions that she acts out with care and purpose,

Her terrific backing band—which alongside Jacob also features Trey Henry on Bass, Nir Felder on Guitar, and Dave Tull on Drums—kick started the show with a rousing jazz instrumental. As expected, the crowd was absolutely delighted once Ms. Buckley walked from a side door and planted herself center-stage.

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